French vs. Punjabi
I hope that one day I can speak fluently in many languages. But my dreams of becoming a polyglot may not be realistic given the other interests and obligations that take up my time. I also find that wherever I am, I want to learn as much of the local language as I can (for example, Quechua in the Andes) so I tend to learn a little here and a little there, rather than learning any one language fluently (besides Spanish and English). But there are two languages I think are particularly important for me to learn at a higher level: French and Punjabi.
I want to learn French because it is an official language of Canada, it is a language my children will likely learn in school, and it may open up future job possibilities for me. I did study French in school from grades 3 to 8 but, similar to Roma’s experience, I never took it beyond the basics. However, I find that now that I know Spanish, understanding written French has become much easier, and things like ‘verb conjugations’ and ‘the subjunctive’ seem much less daunting than before. I have been using Duolingo over the past months to brush up on French vocabulary, but I feel it’s time to take it to the next level. In addition to taking some lessons, there are many free online resources for learning French so it should be easy to practice on my own time.
At the same time that I am thinking about seriously taking on French, I find that being back in Vancouver I am surrounded by much more Punjabi than any other language besides English. This is mainly because my partner is half Punjabi and this past week we attended his cousin’s wedding celebrations (a week long affair). Being immersed in the traditions, and hearing the prayers, songs, wedding speeches, and inside jokes in Punjabi this week has really given me the itch to learn. Although most of the family members speak English and a cousin graciously translated for me, I can’t help but feel that I would be getting much more out of the experience if I knew Punjabi. Language is the key to understanding culture, and although this week I wore a sari, bowed in the gurdwara and danced with a gagger on my head, I feel that no amount of translation will do justice to understanding these traditions from the inside out. Also, Punjabi will be a part of my kids’ lives and could bring job possibilities too… hmm…
So which do I choose?
What do you think, readers? Help me out! I feel really torn about which language journey to embark on first. I would love to do both at once, but I feel I should concentrate on one at a time. Do any of you have experiences with these languages?